Lapo Elkann has re-entered the auto business with Garage Italia Customs, a Milan-based company that specializes in custom bodywork, paint and upholstery. Elkann, whose great-great-grandfather Giovanni Agnelli co-founded Fiat, has held numerous roles in the family business. As head of brand promotion he campaigned to transform the 3+1 concept into what would become the rebooted Fiat 500, which has been one of Europe’s top-selling minicars for nearly a decade. He left Fiat in 2005 after nearly dying of a drug overdose. Two years later he started Italia Independent, a lifestyle and clothing brand featuring Italian products. Last November, he opened Garage Italia. Elkann detailed his plans for the business and shared his views on the auto industry in an interview with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri.
What is the mission for Garage Italia?
The mission is to be the fashion, style and design house for everything in motion. We have customized cars, motorcycles, helicopters, private jets and boats. Automobiles are the core of our activity because I am mad about cars. Secondly, cars account for about $93 billion of the global $590 billion in annual spending for customization.
What are your key goals?
My first goal is to reach breakeven in about three to four years on the roughly 8 million euros we’ve invested so far. Long term, the sky is the limit. The number of wealthy people is growing worldwide and they increasingly want something tailor made to properly express their tastes and dreams.
Is there is any link between Garage Italia and Ferrari’s Tailor Made customization program you helped set up?
I had the great opportunity to work on Ferrari’s Tailor Made project as well as on their one-off program. I really loved that and I learned a lot. But, with all due respect, Ferrari Tailor Made is [customization] 2.0 while Garage Italia is 5.0. Why? Because we have no constrains on the brands and type of vehicles [we can work on]. Everything that moves could be customized by us. We have worked for BMW, Fiat, Mercedes, Jeep, and Smart, just to name a few.